The Deep Blue Sea, Terence Rattigan’s classic play, was based on an incident from Rattigan’s own life, in which one of his lovers committed suicide. Unable to write candidly about this homosexual relationship, he made the protagonist of his play a woman instead. After seeing Kenny Morgan at the Arcola Theatre, a modern play by Mike Poulton which deals with the real life incident which inspired it, I found it an illuminating experience to watch The Deep Blue Sea.
We meet Hester Collyer, living in a poky Camden flat with her lover, the cold and rather disinterested Freddy. At the start of the play she is attempting suicide, discovered only by a well-meaning neighbour, who contacts her estranged husband. Hester feels trapped, not wanting to return to her husband but recognising the flaws in her lover.
Helen McCrory is superb as Hester, conveying a woman with strong passions in deep despair. There are strong performances too from Peter Sullivan as her husband and Tom Burke as her lover. The intricate set is beautifully designed by Tom Scutt, emphasising the 1950s setting. The production is directed by Carrie Cracknell and I particularly liked the ending: understated but full of feeling.